A Silly Man, Though Lewd.

James Harbeck, “a professional word taster and sentence sommelier (an editor trained in linguistics),” has some fun with the etymological fallacy, “the idea that the true meaning of a word is whatever it ‘originally’ meant,” creating a story that uses words with their “true” meanings:

Our local lord – I mean the baker, of course – is a silly man, though lewd, and so is a favorite of the local ecclesiastics. One day, the bishop – a truly awful and egregious man, and among the most enthusiastic spellers you could ever find – came to town on a holiday to have a thing with the local priests. He came to the lord to get a loaf, but the lord was not there, so his queen gave him a special one she had thrown around.

Walking back to the church, the bishop saw a harlot. “Can you help me and my girls?” said the harlot, gesturing towards several knaves around him.

“My whore,” said the bishop, “I hope you are not pretty.”

“No,” said the harlot, “I am just a nice pastor, but I cannot win.”

As the bishop extracted his meat, the lord came running down the lane carrying several more loaves, and shouting, “I pray, do not give that loaf to the harlot and his girls, it’s sophisticated!”

The lord was a crafty man, but not always a clever one, and as he neared the bishop he offended and warped the loaves. The bishop attended to the loaves, but he too offended, killed his head on a cute peter, and was astounded.

At first the lord and the harlot thought the bishop had starved, but a small deer – a hound – licked his face and he awoke. The bishop, too, was a crafty man, and full of animosity, and he declared that the accident had been a small enormity and nothing noisome. He gave some bread to the harlot, saying “May you be silly and no longer nice,” and went on with the gaudy lord to join the priests in their thing.

For “a translation into the words people would usually use now, ‘wrong’ though they may be,” visit the linked post.

Comments

  1. John Emerson says:

    A problem with this approach is that there’s a fair amount of literature where the authors do want the etymological meanings to be in play. Robert Graves and Herman Melville are two I’ve seen specifically discussed in that light, and I’m sure that with a little digging I could find many more. (To sya nothing of Joyce). And some metaphors are not quite dead yet, and sometimes a nod to the etymology can be illuminating in various contexts.

  2. Russian люди /ludi/ and Ukrainian людина (people and (hu)man) have come, according to Vassmer, from Slavic людинъ=”free person” and have cognates in (obviously) Slavic, but also Baltic languages, Burgundian leudis, Ancient Greek ἐλεύθερος (free man/person), Latin liber and even something on the Indian side with the meaning of “grow”(huh?). Lewd sounds very much alike and now we learn it had somewhat close meaning so we, lewd люди, can get ideas, but lewd is from Germanic word for betrayal. Alas. Vassmer also has this comment “No reason to talk about Germanic origin of люд, contrary to Peisker, Trautmann, Hirth, and Sergeevsky” (not sure, I’ve back-translated the names correctly)

  3. A problem with this approach is that there’s a fair amount of literature where the authors do want the etymological meanings to be in play.

    Apples and oranges. He’s not talking about that, he’s talking about the belief that etymology = meaning. Nobody’s saying etymology can’t be mentioned or used for artistic purposes.

  4. Stefan Holm says:

    FWIW – the older law of the West Geats contains the following passage:

    Löpær dræll bort allær ambut fra lawardhi sinum ok gör nokon skadha. dræpær. stial allær rænir. eig skal lauardhær. skædhæ. gialda num han aptær fa hion sit.

    The spelling and orthography is a disaster. But since it (early 13th c.) is the oldest known of all documents written in Swedish with Latin script it may be excused. The scribe had so to say nothing to refer to. The translation is however:

    Runs thrall or bondwoman away from his/her lord and does some damage: kills, steals or robs, the lord shall not pay for the damage if he not afterwards gets his servant back.

    The interesting word is lawardhi (genitive) / lauardhær (nominative). It’s a compound of (modern Swedish) lev (loaf) and värd (host). So the loaf-host, he who provides the bread, seems to be the accurate rendering of the modern word lord.

    In other parts of this law the word bryte appears. It’s a noun formation of the verb bryta, break, cut off and means ‘foreman’, ‘overseer’. He was obviously the man who actually cut off the pieces of bread and distributed to the thralls. And the word bread (Sw. bröd, Ger. Brot etc.) is thought to come from this ‘bryta’ verb.

    An example from the West Geat law:

    Gangær at stialæ bryti. ok thræl. bryti skal vppi hængiæ. ok eigh dræl.

    ‘Go to steal foreman and thrall, foreman shall up hang and not thrall’. Supervisors were obviously more expendable than thralls.

    ‘Loaf’ seems otherwise be more original than ‘bread’. Russian хлеб (chleb), bread, looks suspiciously related as do Finnish ‘leipä’ (bread).

  5. Stefan Holm says:

    Sorry, lawardhi is dative, not genitive.

  6. John Emerson says:

    Steve will make a prescriptivist of me yet.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    That is delightful. ^_^

    Russian люди

    What immediately comes to mind is its German synonym Leute.

    The spelling and orthography is a disaster.

    As far as I can tell, 15th-century German is much, much worse!

    And the word bread (Sw. bröd, Ger. Brot etc.) is thought to come from this ‘bryta’ verb.

    I had no idea bread was so brutal.

    Russian хлеб (chleb), bread, looks suspiciously related as do Finnish ‘leipä’ (bread).

    Both are thought to be Germanic loans.

  8. Stefan Holm says:

    It should be added, that another theory links ’bread’ to ’brew’ and claims that ’bryta’, MHG ’briezen’, OE ’bréotan’ is onomatopoeia – the sound heard when something breaks.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    Bjorvand & Lindeman explain ‘bryta’ (and Lith. ‘briáutis’ “proceed forcefully; enter”) as a metaphorical extension of the ‘brew’ complex. The verb ‘brista’ “break (intrans.)” is seen as a onomatopoetic, but I find that odd for a strong verb.

  10. I may be lewd, but I’m not dizzy.

  11. The verb ‘brista’ “break (intrans.)” is seen as a onomatopoetic, but I find that odd for a strong verb.

    Nice one. For some reason, though, when I first read your sentence I understood “strong verb” as “transitive verb”, so that you seemed to be saying that onomatopoetic verbs are usually intransitive. Is that really the case ? In fact I can’t think of any transitive one in German or English.

  12. I should say “usually transitive”. You can always do things like: “He fizzed her drink for her with the seltzer bottle”, or “He plopped the ketchup out of the glass onto his steak”.

  13. Splashed the water. Banged the door. Honked the horn. Bleeped the expletive . . . . .

    A number of animal sound words are onomatopoeic and would be intransitive.

  14. You’re right, it looks like all I could think of was animal sound words.

  15. Stefan Holm says:

    Trond said: …onomatopoetic .. I find .. odd for a strong verb.

    These verbs are strong and considered onomatopeia in Swedish:

    pipa: chirp, cheep, peep, Ger. piepen.
    skrika: scream, dial. shrike, c.f. Ger. schreien.
    tjuta: howl, OE eotan, OHG diozan.
    nysa: sneeze, neese, Ger. niesen.

    The first two follow class I and the last two class II pattern. A reservation though for levelling which through the course of time may have turned older week verbs strong (and vice versa).

  16. David Marjanović says:

    The Modern German ones are all weak (no idea about OHG); and niesen as onomatopoietic hasn’t really occurred to me, it looks related to Nase “nose”.

  17. Stefan Holm says:

    I don’t know about nysa/neese/niesen but Sw. Academy’s Wordbook claims that it ‘probably’ is onomatopoetic.

    But the modern German ones are all weak? What’s then schreien – schrie – geschrieen all about? http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/schreien

  18. Nice. He used “lord”, but missed the chance to also use “lady”, which appears to derive from “loaf-kneader”…

  19. German Leute, Russian liudi, English lewd (and Old English leod “person, man”) also have a rather unusual cognate – Etruscan “lautni” – freedman.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    a rather unusual cognate – Etruscan “lautni” – freedman.

    It is possible that the Etruscan word has the same origin, but since Etruscan is not Indo-European like the other languages quoted, the proper word to use is not “cognate” but “borrowing” – presumably by Etruscan from a language which had the word (which could be a language now disappeared or poorly attested). It could be an Italic language, or, if the Etruscans did indeed come from Asia Minor, an Indo-European language from that area.

  21. Actually, as I understand the current consensus, most linguists now believe Etruscan to be a divergent Indoeuropean language, perhaps indeed of Anatolian branch.

  22. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: most linguists now believe Etruscan to be a divergent Indoeuropean language

    Since “most linguists” are not familiar with Etruscan, and are not Indo-Europeanists, I would not make such a sweeping statement about what they believe or not. Personally, I don’t know enough to form an opinion, so I keep to the “conservative” position.

  23. Quoth Wikipedia:

    Attested from 700 BC to AD 50, the language has historically been referred to as an isolate, but consensus now holds that it is one of the Tyrsenian languages, along with the Raetic language of the Alps and the Lemnian language of the Aegean island of Lemnos. Lacking large corpora or extended texts, more distant relations of that family are unclear. A connection to the Anatolian languages, or at a further remove to Proto-Indo-European, has been suggested, while Russian scholars have suggested a link to the highly speculative Dené–Caucasian macrophylum, which itself is not widely credited.

    [...]

    The majority consensus is that Etruscan is related only to other members of what is called the Tyrsenian language family. Since Rix (1998), it is widely accepted that the Tyrsenian family of languages is composed of Rhaetic and Lemnian together with Etruscan. A few modern scholars assert that the Tyrsenian languages are distantly related to the Indo-European family.

  24. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, JC. This corresponds roughly with what I remember reading.

  25. David Marjanović says:

    But the modern German ones are all weak? What’s then schreien – schrie – geschrieen all about?

    That’s me having truly astounding selective blindness. o_O O_o

    (I’d spell the past participle geschrien though. The extra e is almost hypercorrect; the word has two syllables, not three.)

    Actually, as I understand the current consensus, most linguists now believe Etruscan to be a divergent Indoeuropean language, perhaps indeed of Anatolian branch.

    Nah. The suggestion that the Tyrrhenian/Tyrsenian languages are Anatolian has been made, but… isn’t tenable, and I don’t know if anyone still supports it.

    It may well be that Tyrsenian and Indo-European are sister-groups, in which case lautni may well be a cognate of lewd rather than a loan; but that’s 1) a different hypothesis than the above and 2) not currently a widely accepted hypothesis either; Etruscan is really not well understood, and the other Tyrsenian languages much less than that, so the current consensus is the absence of a hypothesis.

  26. By the way, my understanding of term “cognate” is that it refers to words in two languages having same origin.

    The languages don’t have to be related.

    Thus, Mongolian chihir and English sugar are cognates, even though both are borrowings, ultimately from Arabic sukkar.

  27. marie-lucie says:

    SFR, Thank you for specifying your definition of “cognate”, which is not the one current among historical linguists, for whom cognates are found in related languages and derive from the proto-language of the family that includes those languages. See for instance all the cognates of ‘night’ in Indo-European languages (Wikipedia page on Cognates).

    According to your definition, you would probably say that the words for coffee found in the majority of those same languages are cognate, but historical linguists would say that most of those words have been borrowed (directly or indirectly) into the various languages, starting from the same original word found in a completely different language family.

  28. You are maybe right about historical linguists, but I don’t think it’s the way this term used in English.

    Here is an example:

    “Teaching cognates, which are words that are similar in two languages, is one of the most fruitful methods of instruction for English learners who speak Spanish as their first language. Researchers indicate that English-Spanish cognates account for one-third of educated adult vocabulary (Nash, 1997) and 53.6 percent of English words are of Romance-language origin (Hammer, 1979). Cognates can provide a potent method of comprehending English vocabulary, but many Spanish-speaking students do not notice even the most transparent cognates they encounter in texts.”
    (Shira Lubliner and Judith A. Scott, Nourishing Vocabulary: Balancing Words and Learning. Corwin, 2008)

  29. You are maybe right about historical linguists, but I don’t think it’s the way this term used in English.

    Of course, in general English words mean what ordinary speakers use them to mean, but it’s more complicated when dealing with technical terms. When dealing with physicists, it’s best not to talk about relativity or energy in the way non-physicists do in conversation; similarly, if you’re addressing your remarks to people who have studied linguistics, it’s not helpful to use “cognate” in a way that confuses your meaning. To a linguist, words are cognate only if they descend (by language change, not borrowing) from the same ancestor.

  30. So English cognate and Spanish cognado can not be cognates?

  31. You well maybe right.

    I am just surprised to learn that half of English vocabulary doesn’t have cognates in Romance languages as I always believed.

  32. But if they aren’t cognates, then how one should call them correctly?

    How would you call pairs like Romanian “limba” and English “language” or Polish “kava” and Japanese “kohi”.

  33. Made a search on languagehat. Of course, this topic was discussed before and John Cowan came with term “true cognate” or “true genetic cognate” to describe what M-L and Languagehat have in mind when they use word “cognate”.

    Unfortunately, we still have no term for a “cognate which is not true genetic cognate”

  34. Looked at wikipedia article on cognate which M-L referred to.

    “In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin.”

    This definitition doesn’t appear to rule out borrowings. No one can deny that English cognate and Spanish cognado have a common etymological origin from Latin cognatus.

    The list of examples of cognates given in that article includes English dish and German Tisch (“table”), both are ultimately borrowings from Latin discus into English and German respectively.

  35. marie-lucie says:

    I think I would call such words “related”, but not “cognates”. The relationship exists, but it derives from borrowing, not from parallel historical evolution from a common ancestor.

    To use the family metaphor, cognates are like cousins, borrowed words like adopted children.

  36. As usual, m-l is clear and correct. It’s unfortunate that the word lends itself so easily to confusion and that there isn’t an easily available word for “related word which is not a true genetic cognate.”

  37. I would argue that many such “related words which are not a true genetic cognates” undergo considerable parallel historical evolution AFTER the borrowing.

    For thousands of years in the dish/Tisch/discus example above.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    SFR, I agree that the Wikipedia definition does not rule out borrowings, and it can be misleading, but the word “etymologically” does refer specifically to historical evolution, which rules out borrowing. The rest of the article, and the examples given, do not include any borrowings, only lists of words deriving by historical evolution from a common ancestor, as with the many words for ‘night’ in IE languages.

    As for English cognate and Spanish cognado, it is true that they are both from Latin cognatus, but neither of them is directly descended from Latin. The English word is an adaptation of the Latin word, and the Spanish word is part of its “learned” vocabulary, also adapted from Latin with minimal change. Spanish does have actual descendants of cognatus/-a, namely cuñado/a ‘brother/sister-in-law’.

    With English dish, German Tisch, these words are indeed cognates from the point of view of being descended from a Proto-Germanic ancestor. It was this ancestor which borrowed Latin discus.

  39. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: I would argue that many such “related words which are not a true genetic cognates” undergo considerable parallel historical evolution AFTER the borrowing.

    Absolutely. Once adopted into another language, they are usually treated like “family members” and undergo the same evolution (unless prevented to do so by other linguistic forces, such as the retention of some Latin and Greek plurals in English, due to the prestige of such forms).

  40. –With English dish, German Tisch, these words are indeed cognates from the point of view of being descended from a Proto-Germanic ancestor. It was this ancestor which borrowed Latin discus.

    I thought Proto-Germanic is dated to 1000 BC or so, isn’t it a bit early to have borrowings from Latin?

    Anyway, here is a thought that just occured to me.

    If two closely related languages borrow same word from unrelated language at about the same time, how is the end result different if it was borrowed by their common ancestor instead?

  41. I thought Proto-Germanic is dated to 1000 BC or so, isn’t it a bit early to have borrowings from Latin?

    No, it’s considerably later than that. To quote Wikipedia: “Proto-Germanic is generally agreed to have begun about 500 BC. The hypothetical development between the end of Proto-Indo-European and 500 BC is termed Pre-Proto-Germanic.”

    If two closely related languages borrow same word from unrelated language at about the same time, how is the end result different if it was borrowed by their common ancestor instead?

    An interesting philosophical question, but the important point here is that there is an inherent and important difference between inheritance and borrowing, and there needs to be a way to talk about it, and for better or worse, linguists use “cognate” for the former.

  42. If two closely related languages borrow same word from unrelated language at about the same time, how is the end result different if it was borrowed by their common ancestor instead?

    I’m taking this to be an actual rather than a rhetorical question. If French and Spanish both borrow a Greek word around the same time, it will tend to look similar in both languages: Greek sphygmomanometer ‘blood pressure meter’ surfaces in French as sphygmomanomètre and in Spanish as esfigmomanómetro, which differ only in the epenthetic initial /e/ that Spanish continues to require before /s/ + consonant and French no longer does.

    But spatha ‘sword’, which was borrowed in the Proto-Romance period and displaced the native word gladius, surfaces as épée in French (note the initial /e/ despite the loss of /s/) and espada Spanish, having undergone the sound-changes characteristic of words in both languages.

    So whether you call épée and espada cognates depends on your time horizon: in one sense they are (and can be used to reconstruct Proto-Romance (e)spada), in another sense they are not. The Spanish and French words for blood pressure meter are in no sense cognates: they are parallel borrowings only.

  43. So whether you call épée and espada cognates depends on your time horizon: in one sense they are (and can be used to reconstruct Proto-Romance (e)spada), in another sense they are not.

    In what sense they are not? If the definition of cognate is that the two languages descended from the same common ancestor and the words under comparison have descended from the same word in that common ancestor language than what is left?

  44. marie-lucie says:

    DO, Comparing language families to human families again, there are degrees of relationship (hence “first cousins”, “second cousins”, “distant cousins”, etc), and some words (like “cousin” or “cognate”) can be used more or less generically when there is no need to be very precise, but if the goal is to trace origins and evolution as carefully as possible we need a higher degree of precision. In human families, at certain points there may have been marriage between persons already related at a more or less distant level, and there may have been adoptions of children belonging to the same extended family, for instance illegitimate children or orphans, both types of occurrence complicating genealogical research and the setting up of “trees”, although probably irrelevant to the lives of people centuries later. With language families there are direct descendents (through natural evolution) of a single language, which are cognates or “cousins” to each other, as well as adoptions and adaptations of both foreign and genetically related words. That’s why it is difficult to give a definition of “cognate” which is not too wide or too narrow, but in technical works of historical linguistics “descent from a common ancestor” is too vague if one does not specify which ancestor (at which degree of closeness) we are talking about, for instance Proto-West-Germanic, Proto-Germanic or Proto-Into-European.

    In the case of Sp espada and Fr épée, they are both descended by natural, continuous evolution from Latin spatha, so they are indeed cognate at the level of descent from Proto-Romance (a late variety of Latin).
    At a deeper level, they are not descended from Proto-Italic as are most Latin words, but from a borrowing by Latin from Proto-Germanic. So from the point of view of the history of Latin (before it split into Romance languages such as Spanish and French), Latin spatha is not cognate with any descendants of Proto-Germanic. I don’t know whether the PGmc word has had descendants within Germanic languages, which would be cognate with each other but only “related” to the Latin word (“related” being a more neutral word than “cognate” in terms of technical accuracy).

  45. Latin spatha is in fact thought to be borrowed from Greek σπάθη. It so happens that the Proto-Germanic form is *spadan > English spade, German Spaten, which is quite close to the Proto-Romance form, but will not account for the Latin form. The original meaning was something like ‘broad-bladed tool’, including both swords and digging spades. Note that the suit of Spades in the English deck of cards corresponds to Swords in the Italo-Hispanic version (including the modern Tarot deck); this probably results from a misinterpretation of the Italian name Spade ‘swords’.

    Another cognate is spoon, which meant ‘chip of wood’ in OE but took on the meaning ‘spoon’ under Norse influence, yet another of those semantic loans. If the OE form had survived, it would be *meatstick, where meat ‘food’.

  46. My rhetorical/philosophical question obviously related to parallel borrowings which occured sufficiently long ago to undergo some significant changes in target languages. So let’s rule out sphygmomanometer.

    I also would exclude espade/ épée too, since they were apparently borrowed into language of common ancestor.

    Here is an example from Slavic languages.

    Sometime in 9th century AD, Slavic peoples which at the time spoke closely related, but already divergent languages simultaneously borrowed a certain royal title from German.

    We can be pretty sure about timing of this borrowing since it derives from name of very important historical figure – Charlemagne (742-814 AD).

    A thousand years passed and this word can be found in every Slavic language as Russian and Ukrainian korol’, Belarussian karol, Polish krol, Czech and Bulgarian kral,Slovak kral’ and Serbo-Croat-Slovenian kralj.

    The word behaves as it was borrowed by Proto-Slavic and then evolved in descendant languages, but we know that it was borrowed much later into already different Slavic languages.

    So, can it be described as a cognate in any sense?

  47. marie-lucie says:

    A word cannot be “a cognate” by itself. Two or more words can be cognate (with each other). You are citing a series of words presumably descended from a common ancestor, not a single word which exists under different forms..

    I would say that those words demonstrably descended directly from Proto-Slavic (as shown by the specific changes they have undergone, in common with other words in the same languages) are cognates, while the ones which were borrowed within the family are related but not technically “cognates”.

  48. No, it’s just parallel borrowing. Similarly, we can reconstruct a Proto-Algonquian word for ‘distilled spirits’, a transparent compound of the words for ‘fire’ and ‘water’, but fortunately we know that distillation was entirely unknown until the Europeans came. So the true tale is that each Algonquian language in turn simply calqued the term from its neighbors to the east, using its own native words, themselves descended from Proto-Algonquian.

  49. m-l: In fact all these Slavic words are derived from the name Charles in the form *korljŭ. What is open to question is whether this name (in the sense ‘king’) was borrowed once into Proto-Slavic, as spatha was borrowed once into Late Latin, or whether it was a matter of parallel borrowing like the Algonquian case. Proto-Slavic was breaking up into Proto-West-, Proto-East-, and Proto-South-Slavic right around 800, so we can’t be sure.

  50. To summarize, parallel borrowing into closely related languages which occured sufficiently long ago can be indistinguishable from borrowing into common ancestor language.

    We can tell the difference only by knowing certain historical facts unrelated to linguistics (Indians lacked whiskey before European contact, Charlemagne died in 814 AD)

  51. Or even that occurred quite recently, as in the ‘firewater’ case.

  52. Speaking of firewater, Mongolian word for vodka is obviously a borrowing, but surprisingly from Arabic, not Russian!

    English also borrowed word for alcohol from Arabic.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    I thought Proto-Germanic is dated to 1000 BC or so, isn’t it a bit early to have borrowings from Latin?

    Even though it “is generally agreed to have begun about 500 BC”, that’s probably still too early; the borrowing language was probably Proto-West Germanic, not Proto-Germanic.

    If two closely related languages borrow same word from unrelated language at about the same time, how is the end result different if it was borrowed by their common ancestor instead?

    As explained above, that depends on whether there were sound shifts between that ancestor and the time of borrowing – and, if yes, on whether calquing or (which also sometimes happens along dialect chains) an awareness of the regular sound correspondences managed to fake common descent.

    spatha ‘sword’, which was borrowed in the Proto-Romance period and displaced the native word gladius

    These words did not actually designate the same thing. Spatha applied to swords as we know them, but gladius was a very short weapon used exclusively for stabbing.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    spatha vs gladius: So it is not that one word replaced the other, it is that one weapon replaced the other, so there was no more need to use the word for the obsolete weapon.

  55. Speaking of weapons, here is another “non-cognate” pair.

    Russian pushka (gun, cannon) is borrowed from Czech рuškа and Polish puszka, ultimately via German buhsa from late Latin buxis, from Latin pyxis ‘boxwood box,’ from Greek puxos.

    English box has same etymology, but kept the original meaning.

  56. Mongolian buu “gun, cannon” is a 14th century borrowing from Chinese 炮 ‘pao’. Interestingly, the word went native and formed verb “buudah” (to shoot), which is one of the most frequently used words in modern Mongolian. Its “non-cognates” include Japanese “ho” and Vietnamese “phao”

  57. David Marjanović says:

    Russian pushka (gun, cannon) is borrowed from Czech рuškа and Polish puszka, ultimately via German buhsa from late Latin buxis, from Latin pyxis ‘boxwood box,’ from Greek puxos.

    German Büchse, though a rather obsolescent word, is still used for some kinds of round boxes and also for guns. But why would that be borrowed, instead of рuš- being onomatopoetic?!? And why would it be borrowed with u instead of i, and why would [ks] be borrowed as [ʃk]?!?

    For comparison, modern Viennese terms for “gun” include [b̥ʊfːm̩] and [g̊ʀɒ̈xːŋ̩], and in a TV program magazine from Germany I once saw Wumme in the explanation of a J.-C. Van Damme flick.

    See also: More Dakka – warning: TV Tropes.

  58. -k is dimunitive. Original Slavic borrowing was in form puša (can, tinbox).

    I am not sure how -h in German *buhse* was pronounced. Perhaps foreigners heard only the subsequent -s and trying to repeat the word came out with something like buse/puse

  59. Stefan Holm says:

    Of little interest maybe but bössa is an (almost slang) word for ‘rifle’ in Swedish. The original meaning ‘box’ is though preserved in the word sparbössa, ‘money box’, wherein children are expected to put coins given to them.

  60. marie-lucie says:

    Swedish sparbössa, ‘money box’

    Does it have to be a box? or is it like a “piggy bank” (a piece of pottery, often in the shape of a pig – old ones had no opening apart from the coin slot, so they had to be broken to retrieve the money).

  61. Stefan Holm says:

    It iis a piggy bank, ma chere Marie Lucie. I myself have one in the shape of a football (a European one) locked by a padlock on my nightstand. I got it in 1955 when I at the age of four was hospitalized for an (until this day) mysterious softening of my hip ball, threatening to make me limp. The key to the lock is long gone but something is clanking inside. Some of these days I’m gonna find out what’s in there.

  62. David Marjanović says:

    Sparbüchse exists, and refers to something more can-shaped and less pig-shaped than Sparschwein. :-) Probably obsolete by now.

    Original Slavic borrowing was in form puša (can, tinbox).

    Oh.

    I am not sure how -h in German *buhse* was pronounced.

    In Middle High German times, when that spelling was used, as [x]. Then [xs] shifted to [ks] (except apparently in Switzerland).

    If it was a really early loan, though, the s itself may have been understood as š, because it was retracted like in northern Spanish and Greek today…

  63. marie-lucie says:

    In French the thing in which you collect and save spare coins for a “rainy day” is called une tirelire. It is not a box with a lock (although Wikipedia.fr only shows a photo of an Austrian one with a lock) or anything metallic but traditionally a roundish piece of pottery, sort of like a teapot without a spout or a lid, completely closed on top except for a slot. The intent was that you would keep increasing the contents without being tempted to remove them unless in exceptional circumstances, when you would break the tirelire. The TLFI says that the origin of the word is onomatopeic, referring to the noise the coins inside make when the tirelire is shaken. But the sound of the word rather recalls some of the meaningless syllables often found in folk songs, such as ti-re-li or ti-re-li-re-la.

    Since such objects were (and still are) often given to children, there were fun variations on the general shape, especially imitatiing fat-looking animals. In France the pig shape was only one of several popular shapes: among the TLFI’s examples of the use of the word is a 1936 description of a tirelire in the shape of a cat’s head. Google also gives examples of the words and phrases “cochon tirelire” (obviously a calque of “piggybank”) and “tirelire cochon” (the latter unfortunately recalling the use of “cochon” as an adjective suggesting scatology or obscenity).

  64. German Büchse, though a rather obsolescent word, is still used for some kinds of round boxes and also for guns.

    The Germany-German variant Buchse is anything but obsolescent. It is the standard word for a phone socket (or jack socket).

  65. David: I’d spell the past participle geschrien though. The extra e is almost hypercorrect; the word has two syllables, not three.)

    In NRW/Hessen/B-W I have never heard geschrien (the official spelling, as I didn’t know:-( ) pronounced with two syllables, but instead always with three. As Duden says: […ˈʃriːn], auch: […ˈʃriːən]

  66. marie-lucie: Swedish sparbössa, ‘money box’ … Does it have to be a box?

    In Germany-German at any rate a rectangular one can be called a Spardose. Spardose and Sparbüchse may be regionally specific, I just don’t know.

  67. Is there a more elegant way than “Germany-German” to refer to German as spoken in the Bundesrepublik ? I know that dialect and variant boundaries don’t respect administrative ones, but still …

  68. @Stu Clayton: I remember hearing “BRD Deutsch.” However, that was in the early 1990s, shortly after German reunification, and the implicit contrast was with “DDR Deutsch,” as spoken in the former eastern zone.

  69. Trond Engen says:
  70. Trond Engen says:

    No. Is, for some reason, supposed to have specialized: børse “(hunting) rifle” vs.(spare)bøsse “money box”. But it’s not that simple. Historical firearms are written with -ss-, e.g. flintbøsse “flint gun”, and the money box is mostly pronounced as if written -rs-. Now I wonder if that retroflex is related in origin to the Russian š.

  71. David M used the word Teutonism here, by which he said he meant a German usage particular to Germany. Teutonic German isn’t instantly clear, but then neither is hexagonal French for the analogous concept.

  72. marie-lucie says:

    JC: Hexagonal French may not be obvious outside of France, but le français hexagonal is immediately understandable within the country, since in the French press l’Hexagone is basically synonymous with its name when referring to the land itself (not to the government, for instance).

  73. On l’”Hexagone”: in my experience the term does not refer exactly to France as a country, but to core, European France, i.e. the country minus those parts of it which lie overseas (Martinique or La Réunion, for instance). Somewhat like the term “Continental United States” used to refer to the country minus Alaska and Hawaii. There seems to be a little more ambiguity involving l”Hexagone”, though: A Corsican fellow student corrected me on this point once and emphatically denied that Corsica could be said to be part of “l’Hexagone”, but I suspect Corsicans are divided on this point, along easy-to-guess political lines.

    In (recent) dictionaries I have come across the term “Francisme” to describe a French term (chiefly relating to political institutions/realities) used in France alone.

  74. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne: l’”Hexagone”: in my experience the term does not refer exactly to France as a country, but to core, European France

    That’s what I meant when I used the term “the land”, as shown on a map.

  75. Etienne: Technically, the 48 states are “the contiguous U.S.”, whereas the “continental U.S.” includes Alaska but not Hawaii nor any of the other far-distant islands that are not part of a state. (Isle Royale, Manhattan Island, the innominate island on which Greater Boston stands, etc. are of course considered “continental” for this purpose.)

    For language tagging purposes, Teutonic German and hexagonal French are “de-DE” and “fr-FR” respectively, as distinct from “de-AT” on the one hand or “nds-DE” on the other. See the IANA Language Subtag Registry.

  76. John Cowan, technically there’s also a not-distant bit that’s not part of a state: the District of Columbia. Despite being not one of the 48 states, it is part of the continental and contiguous United States, though those of us living in DC (more than live in Vermont or Wyoming) have no voting representation in Congress, and Congress likes to overrule laws passed by our local legislature.

  77. @Keith Ivey

    Perhaps you should have a referendum for independence.

  78. Or at the very least march through the streets chanting “No taxation without representation!” (John Major was known to say, with respect to the U.S. refusing to pay its United Nations dues, now billions of USD in arrears, that there should be no representation without taxation either.)

  79. Well, we did put “Taxation Without Representation” on our license plates. And 10 years ago or more I did go down to the British embassy with a crowd to present our petition to return to British rule providing we could have representation in Parliament.

  80. A while ago, I saw an Israeli petition claiming that Israelis are loyal subjects of queen Elizabeth.

    I don’t know whether they were joking or making some obscure political point.

  81. David M used the word Teutonism here, by which he said he meant a German usage particular to Germany.

    I suspect that his “Teutonism” was meant as a joke.

    I asked about an *elegant* way to refer, in English, to Germany-German. “de.DE” doesn’t fit the bill, nor does Bundesdeutsches Hochdeutsch. In German, Bundesdeutsch sounds like an expression from a cryptonazi tract.

    I found “Standard German of Germany” in the internet, but that’s too long. I declare “FRG German” to be the least unsatisfactory.

  82. Or, more precisely, “FRG Standard German”.

  83. I take that back about David’s “Teutonism” being intended as a joke. At Tronds’s link the word is listed as a technical expression in germanistischer Fachliteratur for FRG Standard German.

  84. On Büchse: as a word for a gun it’s now relatively rare, something you’d use for an old-fashioned gun or find in a “Räuber Hotzenplotz” story. As a word for a “can” or “tin” it’s a normal part of my idiolect (Germany-German).

    @ Stu: Sparbüchse is totally a cromulant word, maybe it’s just not much used in your Corner of Germany. ;-)

    On puša etc. – they seem to be loaned from one of those Southern German dialects that didn’t have or removed umlaut, that also are responsible for doublets in Standard German like drücken “press” and drucken “print” (or see Bavarian and Austrian place names in -bruck vs. Standard German Brücke “bridge”.

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, Buchse. Yes, that’s a technical term that is, as such, alive and well, and obviously related. I was only thinking of Büchse.

    I’m sure the origin of Teutonismus is at least half-joking. But then, Big Bang was originally meant as outright mockery…

    In NRW/Hessen/B-W I have never heard geschrien (the official spelling, as I didn’t know:-( ) pronounced with two syllables, but instead always with three.

    Interesting.

    one of those Southern German dialects that didn’t have or removed umlaut

    It’s much more complex than that (and I haven’t figured it out); while many expected instances of umlaut are indeed absent, sometimes the opposite happens. English has umlaut in blood, bleed; Standard German lacks it (Blut, bluten); my dialect has it (/blʊɐ̯d/, /blɪɐ̯tn̩/).

    Free association from your example: there’s an 18th-century song about this guy which has er ließ schlagen einen Brucken, dass man kunnt hinüberrucken while being otherwise, largely, in recognizably standard German.

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